British Columbia Library Association

BC Digital Library (BCDL)


On April 17, 2014, Hon. Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review, and Hon. Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education, announced a new BC Digital Library.* Emerging out of the BC government’s Core Review, the proposed BCDL is expected to expand public access to academic research and openly licensed library resources across academic, school and public libraries.

The BC Digital Library (BCDL) could be conceptualized as a phased, multi-year project, guided by an over-arching vision of access to the intellectual, historical and cultural record of the Province for the people of British Columbia. In its simplest form, a BCDL’s intent is to provide access to a range of materials that may enrich the intellectual and leisure life of a citizen, showcase the contributions of individuals, organizations and government, and contribute to the economic well-being of the province.

Since the announcement, work has begun to define what a BCDL could provide, an environmental scan was undertaken to determine what digitization initiatives are currently in place in the Province, and a collaborative digital repository (Arca) within the post-secondary sector has been established. A November 4 discussion forum and a May 10 Symposium engaged the community in discussion.

BCDL Guiding Principles

In envisioning and supporting the development of a BCDL, a set of guiding principles will serve as an anchor. These common values can form the foundation for ongoing dialogue, engagement, and collaboration across institutions, organizations, and sectors.

At the core of these values is the deeply held belief and commitment to the public good.

These principles were reviewed and endorsed at the May 10, 2016 Symposium.

A Phased Approach

Foundational to the creation of the BCDL is the Arca project.

Arca is a collaborative initiative to support the development and implementation of digital repositories at BC post-secondary institutions. Arca is a province-wide network of institutional repositories that:

The West Beyond the West portal has influenced aspects of the BCDL discussion. This portal provided free and open access to British Columbia’s digitized historical collections as a scoped search of The portal has now been decommissioned; the collections from West Beyond the West continue to be available through and member websites.

*The BC Digital Library was initially called the Provincial Digital Library (PDL).